Something for Rockets
Something for Rockets
2005
D



empty your palates again. No need for pondering your palm-print any longer. It’s all so simple. Prepare for that same old foolishness, that restless contemplation of naught. Spring is almost here, and the thick head of winter is softening. We no longer need to swallow those endless indoor hours. We can give ourselves to whimsy. We can roll back our tops and make ourselves ignorant again. But don’t go too far. Don’t go Something for Rockets far.

A tech-friendly three-piece fronted by Rami Perlman, the son of violin maestro Itzhak, Something for Rockets’ self-titled debut is a monumental effort—for the listener. Attempting to fuse the sparkling drum machines of the Postal Service with the frost-voiced cool of the Strokes, Perlman hollows them both out with his neon-lit crooning. Unfortunately, through this grotesque velveteen swagger and the droll God-I-wish-this-were-ironic stupidity of his lyrics, he manages only rigid postures. I hear the mountain dewed blathering of a college diag preacher. I hear the thick-tongued come-hither bullshit of the bar honeymooner. I hear the awkward teenage stumblings across body-lit front seats. Beneath Perlman’s obvious pandering to woman and man and every dusty lowest-denominator microbe in between, I hear first and last the diary entry and the mumbled regrets that should have been closed to the world. Shit, even Stevie Wonder, in his more family-oriented moments, never fingered your gag reflex like these boys.

Often smothered in soulful background singers (“Be my lady, be my lady, for free”) it’s as though Something for Rockets is checking off a label-prompted genre-list, rallying from hackneyed polyester r-and-b to popped-balloon electro-pop. The drum programming is typically paint-by-numbers direct, reliant upon basement-bargain presets and unimaginative gap fills. Cloying teenage rhythms and soft, plaintive keys set the horizon for the prom, reflected against the nostalgic cruelty of braces and acne scars. Clearly, Something for Rockets is trying to blind you with pretense.

The glitter and the silver are more than superficial accoutrements; if there’s substance to be found here, it’s in the veneer. Beneath his Orange Crush scenery, Perlman’s chunky-smooth flirtations have no place to hide. Instead they’re augmented by skate-rink synth washes and stale guitar assaults. For Something for Rockets, false bluster is the order of the day.

At times, when my eyes dry out to their sugar-rush, I’m reminded of Electric Six’s hyperbole, but Something for Rockets don’t have the teeth for their ballistic irony. At the end of “Red in the Face,” for example, a chorus of cheerleaders begins to chant “SFR! SFR! SFR!” I’m tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt, but then I remember: November 2nd. There ARE fools somewhere, crouched in the Baptist woodlands of America. There have to be. Regardless of political affiliation, I think we’ve just found three to blame for our troubles. For these forty-one odd minutes, our chariot fire is choked with Sterno. Give a wheeze, won’t you?



Reviewed by: Derek Miller
Reviewed on: 2005-02-16
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